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Understanding and Managing Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with Registered Dietitian (Richmond)

Updated: Jan 12

What is Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a common digestive disorder affecting intestinal behaviour and function. It's characterized by a group of symptoms that typically occur together, including abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and changes in bowel habits such as constipation and/or diarrhea. IBS is a chronic condition that needs long-term management.


Causes of IBS

The exact cause of IBS is not known, but several factors seem to play a role:


Muscle contractions in the intestine:

The walls of the intestines are lined with layers of muscle that contract as they move food through your digestive tract. Stronger and longer contractions can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea, while weak contractions can slow food passage and lead to hard, dry stools.

Nervous system:

Abnormalities in the nerves in your digestive system may cause discomfort when your abdomen stretches from gas or stool. Poorly coordinated signals between the brain and the intestines can cause your body to overreact to changes that normally occur in the digestive process.

Severe infection:

IBS can develop after a severe bout of diarrhea (gastroenteritis) caused by bacteria or a virus. IBS might also be associated with a surplus of bacteria in the intestines (bacterial overgrowth).

Changes in gut microbes:

This includes changes in bacteria, fungi, and viruses that normally reside in the intestines and play a key role in health. Research indicates that microbes in people with IBS might differ from those in healthy people.


Symptoms of IBS

IBS symptoms vary but are typically present for a long time. The most common include:


- Abdominal pain

- Cramping or bloating that is typically relieved or partially relieved by passing a bowel movement

- Excess gas

- Diarrhea or constipation — sometimes alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea

- Mucus in the stool


Triggers for IBS

IBS symptoms can be triggered by:


Food:

Many people with IBS find that their signs and symptoms are worse or more frequent after eating certain foods. Working with a dietitian can help you identify what foods to avoid and as needed how to include certain foods back into your eating pattern while minimizing your symptoms.

Stress:

Most people with IBS find that symptoms are worse or more frequent during periods of increased stress.


Managing IBS

There's no cure for IBS, but many people can manage the condition by changing their diet, lifestyle, and stress levels. Treatment is aimed at symptom relief:


Dietary changes: Avoiding trigger foods and increasing fiber intake can be beneficial.

Medications: Fiber supplements, laxatives, anti-diarrheal medications, anticholinergic medications, tricyclic antidepressants, and pain medications might be recommended.

Probiotics: They can help some people with their symptoms.

Counseling: If stress aggravates your symptoms, counseling can help.


Conclusion


Living with IBS can be challenging, but understanding the condition and managing it with lifestyle changes, diet, and medication can help many people lead a normal, active life. Remember, it's important to work closely with your healthcare provider to manage your condition effectively.


Book a dietitian consultation today with our Registered Dietitian at Pegasus Integrated Health in our Richmond location or online to find out more.






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